How did apes evolve to become human beings?

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jseligmann's profile pic

jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Contrary to your question and to some (erroneous) popular opinion, man did not evolve from apes. However, we do share with gorillas and chimpanzees, a common ancestor. That ancestor evolved in Africa somewhere around five to eight million years ago. At some point in that time period, the lineage, or line of evolutionary development, split. One of the branches eventually led to the African ape (gorillas and chimpanzees), and the other branch (called the hominids), eventually led to you and me.

Think about it; if we evolved directly from the African ape, there wouldn't be any more African apes. Evolution is a long, long process of change and natural selection wherein one species evolves into another species. The dinosaurs, many scientists now believe, evolved tens of millions of years ago from the relatively large and predominantly land-based creatures they were to become the birds of today. The dinosaurs are no more, but there are plenty of birds from whom they have evolve.

In short: we did not evolve from apes, but we did have a common ancestor.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is too broad of a question to get a good answer.  I don't really know what you are asking.

First, please understand that modern apes such as gorillas did not evolve into human beings.  What happened was that we and the apes have common ancestors.  Some of their descendants became apes and some became early humans.  Then the early humans evolved, eventually, into modern humans.  Please also remember that all evolution happens through natural selection.

There are two ways I can think of to answer your question.

  1. What changes happened to the "apes" to make them become human?
  2. Why did those changes happen?

I'll briefly answer both.

There are two main changes that happened to make "apes" become human.  These were

  • Walking upright
  • Having a larger brain

Scientists are still debating which came first and led to the other.  They are not sure because all they can do is look at old fossils (millions of years old) and try to guess.

Scientists also argue about why these two adaptations started to occur.  Some guess that it was because forests thinnned out and became more of grasslands.  Others say it was because humans needed to work together to make up for lack of claws and sharp teeth.  No one can know.

funfunfun111's profile pic

funfunfun111 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

They did not. God made humans separate from animals.

versatilekamini's profile pic

versatilekamini | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Biochemical studies to trace similarity between apes and man indicate that man's closest relative is chimpanzee.In 1971,Bill Hoyer,David,Kohne and others compared the similarity of DNA between ape and man.

This shows that the degree of similarity in the nucleotide sequence between the DNA of man and chimpanzee is maximum.With the help of this process phylogenetic tree for various primates showing the approximate time of their divergence have been drawn.

greenthumb's profile pic

greenthumb | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

Apes did not evolve into humans. Humans didn't evolve from anything; humans have always been humans. Evolution is clearly just a theory (but a false theory) because people found bones and made up a whole "skeleton" based on one bone. ONE BONE. People must be really gullible to believe evolution based on such little information.

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